Tuesday, 28 February 1989
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Dukes: asked the Taoiseach if he will make arrangements for the Central Statistics Office to carry out a survey to ascertain the level of emigration in the past year (a) nationally (b) by county of origin and (c) by age group.
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. V. Brady): The only reliable figures for net migration are those based on censuses of population. The Central Statistics Office, however, have for some years made estimates of annual net migration based on population estimates and data on births and deaths. Such an estimate for the year to mid-April 1989 will, in accordance with normal practice, be available during August next.
The Central Statistics Office have been exploring the possibility of estimating directly emigration flows through additional questions in the annual labour force surveys which cover a sample of  some 45,000 households. The eventual outcome using this new format will be assessed over the next few years to see whether reliable estimates are possible on this basis. In the meantime, no other change in existing well-established practice in assembling these statistics is envisaged.
Mr. Dukes: I am surprised that the Taoiseach did not answer that question himself. He was quite capable of doing so. I wonder if the action taken in the context of the labour force surveys is such as to give the kind of information I have asked for. I asked about emigration by county of origin and by age group. Secondly, apart from the initiatives mentioned by the Minister of State, which we already know, are there plans to take any other action to identify the level of emigration?
Mr. V. Brady: As I indicated in my reply, a change has taken place in the format used in 1989 as far as the labour force survey is concerned. This refers specifically to people who have left households during the year. It is envisaged that this information will be very useful and beneficial and will lead to reasonably accurate figures being available on emigration.
Mr. Dukes: Does the Minister of State not think it unsatisfactory, to say the least, that it will not be until August of this year that we will have any information for a period ending in the middle of last year? Would he not further agree that much more accurate and up to date information would be essential? Finally, would he not agree that on the evidence of net passenger movement, the net outward movement in 1988 was some 40,000 greater than in the previous year?
Mr. V. Brady: The normal practice is to use the annual estimate taken. I am sure the Deputy would quite understand and appreciate that it would be virtually impossible to have a census other than on an annual basis. I am quite satisfied  that the information I have already imparted will give the position so far as accurate figures are concerned.
The Central Statistics Office are equally anxious that such information should be accurate to the level of 100 per cent. I share the Deputy's views with regard to the attaining of that situation. I am quite satisfied that the position at the moment is reasonably accurate, but if we can do anything to improve it that will be done. This matter is being dealt with on a continuous basis.
Mr. Dukes: Does the Minister of State not agree that since he is relying on annual labour force surveys based on a sample of 45,000 households, it would be more directly relevant if a sample of a similar size were taken in relation to people travelling into and out of the country? Would he not agree that that would give a far better and more readily usable picture of what is actually happening? Would the Minister not agree that it is nonsensical that one person coming into and going out of this country seven times a year is taken as 14 travellers?
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